Islamic Myths About Creation

Islam shares with Judaism and Christianity the story of a world-creating divine act, spaced out over six periods. The Islamic creation account, like the Hebrew one, involves Adam and Eve as the first parents, living in paradise. As in the Hebrew story, God warns Adam and Eve not to eat fruit from a certain tree, but they do anyway, earning expulsion from Paradise.

The creation narrative of Islam is further developed in many verses in the Qur'an. According to the Qur'an, the skies and the earth were joined together as one "unit of creation", after which they were "cloved asunder". After the parting of both, they simultaneously came into their present shape after going through a phase when they were smoke-like.

Some parts of the Qur'an state that the process of creation took 6 days. While other parts claim that the process took 8 days: 2 days to create the Earth, 4 days to create the mountains, to bless the Earth and to measure its sustenance, and then 2 more days to create the heavens and the stars.

However, the consensus among Muslim scholars is that the process of creation took 6 days, not 8; They claim that the 4 days for creating the mountains, blessing the Earth and measuring its sustenance implicitly include the 2 days for creating the Earth.

In light of modern scientific knowledge about the origins of the earth and the universe, many modern interpretations particularly by apologists, prefer to view the word "day" as used in the Qur'an to mean an arbitrary period of time or epoch; They justify this view by explaining that the usage of the word "day" to mean an arbitrary period of time is not uncommon.

The Qur'an states that God created the world and the cosmos, made all the creatures that walk, swim, crawl, and fly on the face of the earth from water. He made the angels, and the sun, moon and the stars to dwell in the universe. He poured down the rain in torrents, and broke up the soil to bring forth the corn, the grapes and other vegetation; the olive and the palm, the fruit trees and the grass.

God molded clay, earth, sand and water into a model of a man. He breathed life and power into it, and it immediately sprang to life. And this first man was called Adam. God took Adam to live in Paradise. God taught Adam the names of all the creatures, and then commanded all the angels to bow down before Adam. All of them bowed but Iblis (Lucifer) refused to obey.

God placed the couple in a beautiful garden in Paradise, telling them that they could eat whatever they wanted except the fruit of a forbidden tree. But Iblis (the Serpent) tempted them to disobey God, and eat the fruit. When God knew that Adam and Eve had disobeyed him, he cast them out of Paradise and sent them to the earth.

Islam breaks somewhat with Judaism and Christianity in explaining why Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. In the actual Hebrew account in Genesis, a snake tempts them to eat the fruit. Extra-biblical Christian mythology identifies the snake with Satan, but the actual text of the Biblical story does not explicitly make this identification. In contrast, the Quran states explicitly that Shaitan (Satan) tempted Adam and Eve to eat the fruit.

In contrast with Judeo-Christian traditions, which sees Satan as a rebelling angel, Islamic tradition identifies Shaitan with a being called Iblis, who is a jinni, a spirit of fire. In Islamic tradition, angels consist of light and never disobey God since they do not have free will.

Thus, it is said that angels are incapable of sin. In contrast, God created jinn with free will and they may choose to obey Him or not, similar to the case of the human being. He told them to bow before Adam, but Iblis refused, claiming that his fiery nature was superior to Adam's flesh, which consisted of clay. God cast Iblis out of his paradise, and Iblis vowed to tempt Adam and Eve's generations to corruption and to disobey God.

Like Jewish Hebrews, Muslim Arabs trace their ancestry back to Abraham. Like Jews, Muslims believe that Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. While Jews see Isaac as the Hebrews' progenitor, the Muslims trace the Arabs back to Ishmael. However, although agreeing with Jews in terms of ancestry, Muslims shift the emphasis from Isaac to Ishmael. According to Muslim tradition, Ishmael helped Abraham build the Kaaba, and Ishmael's descendants (the Arabs) became the Kaaba's guardians. In addition, while the Bible describes Abraham offering his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God (before God stops him), the Qur'an describes the same story, but with Ishmael as the nearly-sacrificed son.

In Islam all creation is attributed to Allah (the proper name for God in Arabic), the one and only God for Muslims. He is clearly identified as the "first cause" at numerous places in the Qur'an.

The Qur'an has been interpreted to explain the creation of the universe similar to the Big Bang.